The Infographic diagram of Internet Marketing Strategy illustrated in the image above correctly identifies the major core competences that car dealers and their marketing managers need to have mastered and implemented on a continuous basis... Email marketing is especially important for car dealers and is essential to realizing the opportunities to do business and revenue points that drive ROI for the dealership across multiple marketing communication channels... Think of email marketing capabilities as the salt and pepper in the Chet's kitchen of automotive digital marketing.
Directories and Business Listings are akin to basic blocking and tackling... There are literally hundreds of these online services and publications which ever car dealership should be correctly listed in with all points of contact, including actual phone numbers owned by the dealership, physical location addresses and URL's for every dealership controlled website and social media profile. Additional items that should be included in these directory listings include logos, photos, images, coupons, maps, directions and videos.
Regardless of personal opinions or anecdotal misdirection, it is critically important for car dealerships to have a well designed and fully populated portfolio of social media channels, accounts, profiles, pages and sites. This includes blogs, photo, video and consumer generated content sites that feature customer reviews and ratings.. Each of these social media assets must be continuously monitored and updated. Yes, it is a big job and worthy of a full time position within the dealership's employee staff. The impact of social media and consumer generated content on a dealership's reputation and branding within the local market cannot be understated. In the absence of a dealership controlling this communication diamond with many facets, the risk of adverse information becoming the dominant presence for the dealership is simply too high. Each dealership must secure their name as user names so that the SocialMedia profile page URL contains the same keywords that customers would use in a search query when seeking information about the business and its reputation among customers. It is critically important to understand that customer comments, blog posts, status updates and tweets have a similar impact on the dealership's reputation as actual review and rating sites set up for such purposes... In some cases, when a disgruntled customer, former employee, competitor or even a malcontent seizing the opportunity to claim a URL with dealer's name in it, the damage to the dealership's reputation and business revenue can exceed the negative impact of many bad reviews on sites without massive followings.
Speaking of massive followings, my direct experience working with dealerships over the past year has shown that certain user generated content (UGC) sites have far stronger impact on their member's car buying and service spending activities than others. Case in point; YELP! Has emerged as a major player in the area of business reputation and where members actually spend money. Unlike Edmunds, DealerRater, Cars.com, CarFolks and other automotive specific ratings and review sites, Yelp has a loyal, active and high income membership demographic that seeks out businesses, including dealerships with a robust presence within the Yelp user community online. Dealers who stand out from their competitors on Yelp achieve a major competitive advantage... Yelpers are so loyal when it comes to where they spend money that it reminds me of when an LDS (Mormon) church leader or Hasidic Jew owns a dealership... They can count on their fellow members doing business with them to the exclusion of non-member owned dealerships. My advice to all dealers and GM's is to build your personal profile on Yelp with daily content and review submissions and make sure your affiliation with the dealership's enhanced business profile on Yelp is prominent and clearly displayed. For those who ask, I always recommend that a dealership invest the monthly fee for a Yelp Enhanced Business Profile and allocate a portion of the dealership's online advertising budget to Yelp display and pay-per-click (PPC) search advertising.
As important as it is to allocate significant budget to Search Engine Marketing campaigns which include PPC with Google Adwords and Microsoft Advertising (Bing), it is equally important to have a consistent and effective Online Display Advertising strategy that incorporates use of advanced targeting technologies. Examples of audience targeting technologies and tactics that have served dealers well are:
1. Geotargeting - Dealership is only charged when Ads appear on computers and mobile devices within the dealer's specified geographic area.
2. Demographic Targeting - dealer only pays for the ads which appear for consumers within defined age, gender, income levels, education, residential and or marriage status.
3. Contextual Targeting - Dealer only pays for ads which appear on web pages with content that includes keywords such as make, model, and those indicating and interest in buying or servicing a vehicle.
4. Behavioral Targeting - BT is sexy and has sizzle when agencies are selling dealers because it is based on tracking which consumers are visiting websites that in combination are virtually certain to identify those shopping for a new or used vehicle. BT has come a long way over the past few years and when done properly is a highly effective tactic.
5. Retargeting - This is the holy grail of online advertising... Following customers who have visited on of the dealership's websites, blogs, social media channels and displaying ads to them while they visit their favorite sites, check their email or participate in social networking.
Regardless of targeting, the messaging and creative we include in our online display advertising (ODA), Search Engine Advertising (SEA) and content marketing (social media and blogs) are what determines the success of a dealership's overall Internet Marketing Strategy. Great copy and eye catching creative is more important than ever before and trumps any type of targeting or placement prowess. Make sure your display ads are strong enough to grab consumer attention and the message has to be so compelling that you do not depend on click throughs for the ad's impression to effect consumer behavior. Search Engine Ads must be written within a tight set of constraints to quickly convince consumers that the site it is linked to is exactly what they were searching for in the first place. Using dynamic multimedia display ads that allow customers to check inventory, call the dealership and submit inquiries without ever leaving the web page where the ad is seen have transformed ODA into one of the most effective tools in a dealership marketing toolbox for generating leads, phone calls and showroom traffic.
Want more information and how to's? Be sure to visit and join the professional network at http:// AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com . My name is Ralph Paglia and I have been selling new and used cars, trucks, parts and service using the Internet for over 20 years.
President - Automotive Media Partners, LLC